Iterations vs. Options

Iterations are successive changes to one idea. Options are choices among multiple ideas. Which is a better way of creating a design?

Some web firms create several options for you and you choose one. Often, this is more a matter of picking among pre-made templates than of having three new creations, but that depends on the company.

We take this approach to logos sometimes. Here are three logo options, each quite different but based on the client’s preferences.

Here, in the second round of another logo job, the client had narrowed it down to two of three and wanted to see some different color options. Once again, Jay came up with three different options for each, based on our conversation with the client:

We don’t do this for websites. Instead, we create a mock up based on our discussion with the client, and then make changes from there till it’s just what the client wants.

We’re working right now on a website for a theater company. This was Tom’s original

creation:

After testing and getting feedback from the client, he came up with a new version:

These are not two entirely different concepts. Rather we’re moving closer to the precise vision the client will really love.

There are pluses and minuses to both approaches. Choosing among options has real advantages:

  • Seeing a set of options can be easier for people who don’t really have any idea of what they want to begin with. For these people, looking at a single design may just cause them to wonder if there’s some other approach that would be better.
  • Seeing a set of options also allows you to pick and choose — the font from one and the color of another, for example. For people who like to make decisions about specific details, this can be more comfortable.
  • Making choices from among options is also a more concrete task, and can be faster than working through iterations of one concept.

On the other hand, iterations also have some real advantages:

  • Creating multiple options takes more time and therefore costs more — not an issue for a logo, perhaps, but certainly an issue for a website. This isn’t relevant if you’re choosing from pre-made templates, but then of course you’re choosing from pre-made templates.
  • Creating a single solution allows us to focus on the best possible solution, rather than considering multiple possibilities. Again, not an issue for a logo, but websites are all about usability.
  • Having multiple options can be paralyzing. What if you like them all? Sometimes your favorite elements can be combined into something new, but often it’s not possible to do that without sacrificing usability, quality, or cohesion. It’s easy to end up with a Frankenlogo or Frankenwebsite.

Most web firms use one or the other of these approaches; you don’t usually get to pick which approach to take. It might be something to ask when you’re thinking about which firm to go with, though.


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